Westerham: Hooker Bros. Ltd., 1955. Leaflet. This is an original 1955 leaflet advertising the opening of the grounds at Chartwell “by the kind permission of Sir Winston & Lady Churchill” for two different events on 8 June and 6 July. This single sheet of white paper measuring 7.375 x 4.75 inches (18.8 x 12.5cm) is printed in red on both sides and is in very good condition. The paper is bright, clean, and free of spotting or marking, its only flaw being some minor wrinkling to the left edge.
The recto of the leaflet specifies that the "Wednesday 8th June" event is "In aid of Churchill Houses for Old People (Church Army Housing) and Westerham Parish Church". The "Wednesday 6th July" event is "in aid of the Young Women's Christian Association of Great Britain". For each event, Chartwell was open from "10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m." and admission was "Two Shillings". The verso of the leaflet specifies train and bus routes to Chartwell and concludes "Please pass this leaflet on to a friend".
Churchill had resigned his second and final premiership only months before, on 5 April 1955. Chartwell had been the Churchills' home since 1922. “Perhaps no physical place - not Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born, the Houses of Parliament where he served for six decades, 10 Downing Street where he twice resided as Prime Minister, or St. Paul's Cathedral where his Queen and leaders from around the world mourned his death - would more deeply affect Churchill's life and legacy." (Gilbert, A Life, p.450)
In 1923, as he was supervising the rebuilding and decorating of Chartwell, Churchill wrote to Clementine (who was "worried about the expense of so large a house") "Chartwell is to be our home." (Gilbert, A Life, p.458) At Chartwell, Churchill was by turns father, husband, painter, landscaper, and bricklayer and work on improving the house and gardens continued for much of Churchill’s life. Chartwell would prove Churchill’s vital sanctuary during the “wilderness years” of the 1930s. And of course Chartwell served Churchill as “my factory” as he turned out an incredible volume of writing. Even during the darkest days of the Second World War, Chartwell was a place of refuge and renewal. On 2 May 1942 Churchill wrote to his son, Randolph "I went to Chartwell last week and found Spring there in all its beauty. The goose I called the naval aide-de-camp and the male swan have both fallen victims to the fox. The Yellow Cat, however, made me sensible of his continuing friendship..." (Gilbert, A Life, p.720)
After the Second World War, Churchill feared his income was insufficient to maintain Chartwell. Churchill's friend, Lord Camrose, assembled a consortium of 17 benefactors to buy Chartwell for the considerable sum of £50,000 and allowed Churchill to reside there for the rest of his life for a nominal rent of £350 a year, on his death for the property to be given to the National Trust as a permanent memorial. Churchill would not leave Chartwell for the final time until mid-October 1964. True to the intentions of Lord Camrose, Chartwell, with its more than 80 acres of woodland and farmland, remains a National Trust property, full of Churchill’s paintings and belongings, inhabited by his memory and spirit. Item #004776